Heather's Thairy

Heather's journey to Bangkok, Thailand: a year of adventure!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Vacation Day Seven: Transit to Sepilok

Alisa and I bid farewell to Ryan Q on the seventh day, as he was headed to Bali. We decided that we would take a bus to Sepilok, the site of the Orangutan Rehabilitation Center and the jump-off point for several other attractions. The bus took us through the mountains on winding, treacherous roads, but we arrived in Sepilok in the early afternoon in one piece.
We headed to a nice hostel with extremely helpful staff members (thus reconfirming that the people of Sabah are wonderful) where we found out about the various things to do in the area. We were informed that the only way that we could make it out to Turtle Island would be to leave early the next morning at a fairly steep price...after a bit of debate, we decided that we would book the tour and visit the Orangutan Center upon our return. We figured, we're here now, it's only money and when are we ever going to get to do something like this ever again?
That evening we caught a ride with our tour organizer into Sandakan, the city down the highway from Sepilok. We weren't sure what was there but we expected that it would make for a more entertaining evening than staying in the fairly remote Sepilok. It turns out that Sandakan is a disorganized, unattractive town with not much to offer and less friendly people than we had encountered anywhere else. Alisa needed to buy a backpack and we were both interested in purchasing some souvenirs of Borneo- one would think that this would not be a great feat, but it proved impossible. Alisa found a backpack but despite some lengthy searching, we turned up empty handed in the souvenir department.
We did have an excellent dinner at a clean, nice restaurant (equipped with one of the worst bathrooms I have seen) and got some supplies for our upcoming trip to the island. Our tour guide had informed us that a taxi back to Sepilok (about a half hour trip) would cost us somewhere in the region of 70 Ringitt, which is about $23. He offered to take us back for 50 Ringitt, about $17; we told him we would think about it and let him know. Though he had been very helpful, we were skeptical that there wasn't another way to make the relatively short, very direct trip back to our hostel.

Turns out that we were right: we asked at the bus station if any of the buses could take us to Mile 14, our stop on the highway. We were informed that no bus went to Mile 14 but one went to Mile 16, and that we could get a taxi from there to take us to our hostel. This seemed like a viable plan at only 2 Ringitt (65 cents). We hopped on the bus, which was entirely disgusting and a bit scary, and waited to see where it would take us...we were the only white people on the bus and after about five minutes, we were the only females. I kept thinking I should be nervous about this but I'm about twice the size of the average Malaysian man and a hundred times meaner, plus we had encountered nothing but friendliness and help so my level of worry was very slight. It turned out that the bus DID take us to Mile 14 (it's just not a marked stop) and we called for a car to take us to the hostel for a total transportation cost of 4 Ringitt. I was pretty proud of the whole thing, especially since the tour guide had insisted that there were no buses that travel to Sepilok from Sandakan in the evening.
Our hostel was very clean and welcoming, and had a great hot water shower that I couldn't figure out (which meant that Alisa was the only one who enjoyed its warmth!). The grounds were lush and green and it was exceptionally quiet- except for the prerequisite gecko that huddled behind my bed. We had a good night's sleep despite his squawking and in the morning were picked up to go to Turtle Island!

Until next time,


  • At 6:29 PM, Anonymous Auntie Bonnie said…

    Hi Heather,
    Good for you! Bet you showed them that the locals shouldn't mess with THIS tourist!
    Love, Auntie Bonnie


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